Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Balancing land use conflicts, especially over industry, can be very difficult

JBS Swift plant in Butchertown (BS File Photo)
Image from the Broken Sidewalk blog.

It happens that I have walked past the Swift hog butchering plant in Louisville's Butchertown and I can attest to the fact that it smells "earthy." At the same time, the plant has been there for 43 years and employs 1,300 people directly, probably another 700 people are employed indirectly (employment multiplier), the plant generates property taxes, etc.

But according to "Trendy District Roasts Hog Plant" in the Wall Street Journal:

The Butchertown Neighborhood Association wants JBS to move the plant -- and its $47 million annual payroll and nearly $100,000 in yearly real-estate and property taxes -- somewhere else, preferably in the Louisville area. "It's been an ongoing nuisance for people in the area," says Jonathan Salomon, a 34-year-old Butchertown resident and attorney representing the group. "We don't want to see anybody, especially during these times, put out on the street. But...we have to look at what kind of economic growth is good for the neighborhood."

People don't seem to fathom that moving the plant is neither a simple nor an inexpensive process. To force the plant to move, in all likelihood the City would have to pick up the costs associated with it. That likely would be tens of millions of dollars.

So decisions have to be made about costs and benefits. It's not like the Louisville Metropolitan region is growing like gangbusters. To make that up via increased investment within Butchertown will take decades. And can $30 million to $50 million be spent differently and generate a greater return on investment?

If I lived there, I would probably not want the plant there either. But it has been there for 40+ years. Therefore, I wouldn't have chosen to live there maybe. But maybe not. Many people have invested there figuring the plant would eventually move.

For the pro-neighborhood perspective, see "Land Use And The Future Of Butchertown" and "Swift Battle Affects More Than Butchertown" from Louisville's Broken Sidewalk blog.

Note that while for most of the time I have lived in DC and the environs (for about 2 years total of 22 years here I lived at different times in different parts of PG or MontCo) I have lived near railroad tracks--mostly by Union Station--and could hear train whistles.

But I have to say that I wouldn't want to live too close to an outdoor subway station because the noise due to braking and acceleration of the trains is pretty loud. And I don't live on major bus routes (any more) because I don't like the noise and the vibrations (old rowhouses with limited foundations and no basements are subject to serious vibration from the weight of the buses, which I know from personal experience). I make those choices.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home